High Point Police forum 7/21/2016
High Point Police Department Community Forum
High Point Police Chief Kenneth Shultz and the High Point Police Department held a community forum on Thursday, July 21 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the City Hall Council Chamber. In light of the media attention that police and community interaction have received in recent weeks, the forum served to explain how High Point does policing in a way that has helped the community avoid many of the issues that other departments face around the country.
“We have a nationally acclaimed Police Department with a great story to tell that the community needs to hear. The more we tell the story, the easier it will be to understand what sets our men and women in uniform apart,” observed City Manager Greg Demko.
“Combine that with a community that has done its part to keep High Point safe and I don’t think there is any doubt that we have something special in High Point,” he said.
Attendees were asked to submit their questions throughout the night. These questions were read and answered by the Chief immediately following his presentation. Below are the questions and answers posted for your convenience.
Questions & Answers
What kind of preventive safeguards are in place to do effective and safe policing to avoid any unnecessary loss of life on either the police or civilians?
-We have an extensive background check that each officer goes through before being hired and officers undergo many hours of high quality training each year. Each officer took an Oath of office to do his or her job to the best of their ability in order to serve and protect the public. We have written policies in place that give clear instructions on what officers should do and how to use the minimum level of force necessary for the situation. These are supported by and are in compliance with NC State Law. We have a disciplinary process we use when officers fail to follow the policies or their training.
Citizen Review board?
-We have one already. The Chief of Police reports directly to the City Manager and the City Manager reports to the City Council, which is elected by the voters. The City Manager is briefed on all police activity and has oversight. In appropriate cases, the City Council has a way to look into situations involving the police also.
What can we do (the church) to make sure our Home (High point, Greensboro, w/s, etc) does not become a war zone?
-Report anything unusual, suspicious, or criminal when it happens and before it has a chance to become a bigger problem. For neighborhood problems, contact one of our Community Outreach Officers. We assign patrol officers to each area of the city so they can be aware of problems and respond accordingly.
Correct Provision when stopped. Rights we have when told to go back into the house on own property. Training needed. What do you do to keep from hiring a racist officer black or white?
-If an officer is instructing you to return to your house or go back inside your house, it is generally to keep you safe. Please stay back from officers as they are conducting work so they can focus on the issue at hand. Anyone we hire goes through an extensive background check including a psychological profile and a polygraph test. If they fail either one, we don’t hire them.
Does HPPD require training for its officers with regard to recognizing and dealing with people who are impaired, such as mentally challenged, autistic, deaf or otherwise impaired. (I ask as a mom of child with Autism)
-Police receive training in dealing with people with disabilities or mental impairments to equip them to be aware of these issues and handle them appropriately. Officers are often asked to respond to situations that they have not specifically been trained in and therefore have experience in adapting and doing the best they can in any situation. We also partner with other service providers and use them as resources.
Is it unlawful to continue driving to service station or public place when being stopped by blue lights?
-If there are unlit areas in the city, check with City Council to address those dark areas. Make sure to slow down and put your turn signal and hazards on so the officer knows you are responding. It is okay to go a short distance to find a safe place to pull over.
Does High point PD have body cameras? If not, will they have them in the future?
-We currently do not have body cameras but almost all first responder cars have dash cameras and the officers are wearing microphones to record conversations. We are waiting to switch to body cameras because of the high cost we have already put into in-car cameras (about $5000 per car), the high cost of purchasing and maintaining computer space for the captured body-worn camera video. We are also hoping that the body camera technology improves to make it less costly and more discreet.
Do all department employees participate in Anti-Racism training?
-All of our officers receive diversity training every year. The State of NC mandates these sessions and provides the required teaching materials to ensure consistency across the state.
What do minority training include or focus on?
-Training at the HPPD remains a priority and I feel it goes far towards ensuring proper officer response and actions. The following is a small sample of related training we have received in the past few years: Juvenile Minority Sensitivity Training; The Color of Justice; Interacting with Juveniles; Social Media and Youth; Dealing with Mental Illness; LGBT relationships; Effects of Juvenile Bullying; Ethics on Duty; Race Matters; Sovereign Citizens; Interacting with Returning Military Personnel; Procedural Justice; Communications with the Public; Epilepsy and Autism; Music, Drugs and Our Children; etc. We also deal with many other topics to include Legal Updates, Driver’s Training, Use of Force Training, De-escalation Training, Leadership Training and many other subjects in order to ensure we are well trained to do our jobs. Each officer received a minimum of 75 hours of training a year and many receive much more.
What type of training do officers take for various cultures and immigrant community?
-Our training includes briefing on the African-American, Asian, Latino and Middle Eastern cultures. It covers both cultural understanding and communication issues. In addition, the State mandates training hours and puts out instructional material on these issues every year. Above and beyond this, we partner with various organizations so we can work more closely with these groups and share information. Examples of recent partnerships include the High Point Human Relations Commission and a recent Ramadan Dinner, the YWCA and their Latino Family Services Organization and ongoing work that we do with World Relief.
Would the City consider a step-by-step 10 year mentor relationship within our schools by mentoring our youth to help guide them into our Police Department as a career goal? Positives: Builds relationships with our youth (changes vie of officers young), academic benefits (reading, math, …), Investment in the future police department employees, etc
- We are always open to participating in programs to build ties to the young people and steer them in a good direction. There are great school resource officers in the school system now and the children love them and we build a lot of relationships that way. We also have an Explorers program which is a program for young people who are interested in becoming police officers.
When does the city council, police, civic organizations and citizens come together to show everyone matters? Showing our support for our police! What are ways we can show it?
-There has been a great outpouring of support and thanks to the officers in the past several weeks. Many citizens have stopped by the department or come up to us in public just to offer us support. Just being friendly to officers, waving to them, or approaching them in a friendly manner is a great way to show support. We know that the police/community partnership is key to what we want to accomplish in the city. Don’t forget our Open House and Community Day at the PD on September 10th. Please come out and meet the officers.
Do you have statistics to prove that warning tickets at traffic stops are distributed proportionally for blacks & whites? Are black speeders given traffic tickets while “white privilege” affords white speeders a “warning ticket”?
-We are required to keep a record of all of these statistics and provide them to the State Department of Justice. They are also listed in the chart in the PowerPoint that was shown. You can access the statistics online at http://trafficstops.ncsbi.gov/ . I believe our statistics show our activities are appropriately proportional.
Are citizens allowed to ride along with officers?
-Yes. The department allows a citizen to ride along with an officer for a shift once per year. This is a great way to have a front row seat and observe what an officer does on duty. We also have an annual Citizen’s Academy where we teach about the police department and different aspects of an officer’s job. Applications for both can be found on our web site.
How can the community connect to HPPD for regular info
-We have a webpage (https://www.highpointnc.gov/police), a Facebook page, and a Twitter page. We put out press releases on a regular basis, both for crime news and upcoming events. In September, we hold a community day, where we open up the department and do tours and demonstrations with our K-9 units and Tactical Team. This is free and open to anyone. This year it will be on September 10th from 10:00am to 2:00pm. Lunch is provided for free.
In light of recent crime against officers what is HPPD doing to protect the officers” the new this morning (Fox 8) said WSPD is having officers riding 2 to a car. Is HPPD doing anything similar or considering doing anything similar to protect our officers from situations like Dallas and Baton Rouge in past 2 weeks?
-We are always evaluating our tactics and responses to make sure we are as safe as possible. We have some units that have two officers to a car but we have not changed anything in response to Dallas and Baton Rouge except reminding our officers to be alert. 9/11 was also a tough time to watch and go through as an officer. Right now the officers are overwhelmed with the thank yous and love the appreciation and acknowledgment.
What is the correct procedure when stopped?
-Read the handout we have provided. Keep calm, don’t jump out of the car, don’t argue, and keep your hands visible. If you disagree with the officer’s actions, the place to argue is in court. If you feel the officer acted inappropriately, you can file a complaint with the police department by calling our Professional Standards Unit at 887-7973.
What is the High Point PD doing (besides this meeting) to improve relations with the community? Are there any activities planned? Does High Point have any carnivals or activities with the youth?
-We have events year round to build and maintain relations with the community. Our community resource officers attend every local neighborhood watch meeting and help watch groups get established all across the city. The community day I mentioned before is another one. Our school resource officers recently did a Youth Leadership Academy which they do every summer. We work hand in hand with groups like High Point Community Against Violence which meets on the second Wednesday of every month at 8:30am at the Police Department. That meeting is also open to anyone. National Night Out is being held around the City on August 2nd. And that’s just the beginning.
Chief do you have statistics on the number of concealed carry permits in High Point
-The Sheriff’s Office handles those permits and would have that information. We do not keep those numbers nor are we involved in issuing permits.
Will having the forum tonight preclude future community meetings with the police department? What are the qualifications for being [a] police officer and how do we get more black patrolman on [the] force? Can the hiring process be more lenient for people of color? Why is there no relationship with officers and the community? Where do you live?
-I live 15 minutes from the police department. As mentioned earlier, there are always events between the police and the community happening and I would disagree with the statement that there is no relationship with officers and the community. We are fortunate to have a tremendous and close relationship with our community. A police officer is only required to have a high school degree but we have a very competitive application pool so it is probably more difficult to be hired here than at some other area agencies. We are always looking at ways to recruit better in order to diversify our applicant pool. Everyone is held to the same standard but it is very important to us to have a diverse police force both in gender and race.
Will you pursue a greater presence of community policing?
-I’m not sure we could do more in that area. It is the primary focus of what we do and it is the reason we have been so successful. We will not stop building and maintaining those relationships. One of my major pushes since being named chief is to try to grow membership in High Point Community Against Violence. This positive relationship is one thing that sets High Point apart from other areas and my push is to get more citizens involved in this partnership with us.
How alarmed are you with the high percentage of incarcerated individuals that are not a representation of the diversity of our city?
-It is very important to me that our officers treat everyone equally and based only on their actions with regard to the laws. It is ultimately not up to us what happens to the suspect once we have brought the charges and whether he or she goes to prison or is set free.
Why is it that when a police wants to arrest a black person they do exactly what they ask them and get shot anyway? Would the police department consider hiring one less police and hire a psychiatrist instead on full staff?
- I cannot speak for other agencies across the country, but we have not had that situation here. Our officers go through a psychological test and evaluation as part of their hiring process and I can mandate a review if concerns arise throughout an officer’s job performance. We also have a peer counselor system to offer support, chaplains are available to officers and the city provides access to an Employee Assistance Program for its employees to seek help when needed. Both supervisors and peers are trained to watch for and report any concerns they may see.
What kinds of initiative (or plans) the PD has in place to recruit more diverse police force that reflects the diversity of HP? What are the statistics about how many times officers discharged their weapons and how many of such incidents resulted in death?
-Recruitment continues to be a major focus for the HPPD and we work hard to attract qualified and diverse candidates. Our salaries are competitive with the other major cities in the state and that helps a lot. Some tactics we utilize to attract candidates includes recruitment at Historically Black Colleges, attendance at key job fairs and on military bases, recruitment at local schools and billboard and bus advertisements. We also rely strongly on referrals and support our community in encouraging candidates to apply to become officers with us.
-In the last 16 years in High Point, we have had to shoot someone 9 times and 6 of those persons died. In every officer-involved shooting, we have the State Bureau of Investigation investigate and present the facts to the Guilford County District Attorney who decided whether the officer violated any laws. In each of these shootings, the District Attorney ruled that the officer(s) acted appropriately after a full investigation by the SBI.
Can you do programs in the community telling them to move right when you are coming through. Last night I live at Sheraton Towers and 3 cars refused to move over for 6 cars of yours heading south on Main Street
-There is not currently a lot being done on education work on moving over for emergency vehicles. If it becomes a big issue, the office could do a PSA to assist with the problem. The department is working with Crimestoppers to put kiosks in several locations which would allow people to anonymously provide tips and information about criminal activity and which could promote such educational material.
How many applications are put in by minorities? Is the police staffed for the size of the city or is more needed? How many citizens complaints are false? Do you have video cameras in the cars?
- Over the past year we received the listed number of applications from the following groups:
- Asian American 24
- American Indian or Alaskan Native 12
- Black or African American 363
- Hispanic or Latino 90
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific 5
- White or Caucasian 790
- All who pass the entire hiring process are then considered for employment.
-In the most recent budget, the City Council authorized us to apply for a Federal Grant to pay for eight new officers and next year we anticipate asking for more. We expect the decision from the Federal Government on approval of this grant to be announced in October. This will put us on par with the officer/citizen ratio and uncommitted time recommendations that are recognized as best practices. Last year, we had 43 citizen complaints that were “unfounded,” meaning there was no basis for the complaint after investigation. We have video cameras in almost all of our first responder vehicles.
What resources do HP Police have to try to develop relationships with the youth to prevent them from becoming violent towards the police? Have the HP Police looked into the DARE program that was discontinued by the state department?
-Our data showed that the DARE program was not very effective and we discontinued that locally. As mentioned above, our school resource officers build relationships in the schools and we do programs like the recent Youth Leadership Academy put on by School Resource Officers in conjunction with High Point University and a Youth Program our Housing Authority Officers are currently conducting with support from High Point Housing Authority. We also partner with the Boys and Girls club on several different events.
What are you going to do with the 4 million dollar grant for domestic violence?
-Our work to address Intimate Partner related Domestic Violence has been extremely successful. In the 5 years before our program, we had 17 DV related homicides. This was 1/3rd of all of our homicides. Since starting our program in 2009, we have had two. Our work was recognized by the Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women. They have awarded a 1.6 million dollar grant for other cities to receive training and replicate High Point’s work. The funding will be used by DOJ/OVW to provide training and guidance to those cities and the funding is going to National Network for Safe Communities which is operated out of John Jay College in NY. Some High Point Officers may be contracted with to travel to the other cities and provide training and support, but apart from that, High Point does not receive any money. We are however, excited to get our work out to others in hopes of saving more lives throughout the country.
While the HPD should be applauded for their superior training, how are they working to build local community relations?
-This has been previously answered.
It was reported to me on Tuesday, an African American male was stopped by police officer and asked why was he walking in this neighborhood. When he replied, “I’m just walking” the officers asked “why don’t you walk in your own neighborhood?” Is this appropriate policing and should the officer be disciplined?
-If this happened here, I would want the man to contact our Professional Standards Unit and file a complaint. Speaking rudely or in an unprofessional manner is certainly something that officers can be disciplined for and have been disciplined for in the past and is something that I will not allow to happen.
How do your department define inappropriate policing such as racial profiling and illegal stop? Give example
-The officer has a right to stop someone for a reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe a crime is occurring or has occurred. The officer must document the stop and what race the person was and those statistics are kept by the state. It is against the law, illegal and against policy to racially profile, meaning stopping or taking an action based on race. Obviously, if a suspect is described to us as having a particular race, we have to take that into account. If anyone feels that they have been racially profiled, they should file a complaint with our Professional Standards Unit.